An umbrella term for certain music in Japan, with the genres it covers largely analogous to pop music in the US. Nicknamed "J Pop", it is most known to fans outside Japan for Idol Singers
and that many such songs are often featured in Anime
openings and endings due to alliances between certain animation studios and record companies (i.e. lots of Sony artists have tie-ins with shounen anime produced by Sony). That is to say nothing of the copious amounts of Gratuitous English
that are a hallmark of the genre. Also note that many voice actors have singing careers too but most focus on the niche anison market and a rare few actually attempt to break into the mainstream market.
Japanese popular music until J-Pop truly "became" a genre was called kayokyoku ("Lyric Singing Music"). Kayokyoku usually didn't include Gratuitous English
like many J-Pop bands. Kayokyoku continued to last until the 1980s. Artists of kayokyoku were heavily influenced by western jazz and rock n' roll.
A notable movement in kayokyoku in the late 1960s into the early 1970s is the "Group Sounds" movement. Influenced heavily by groups such as The Beatles
, The Byrds
, and other such groups, group sounds bands were characterized by their reliance on Psychedelic Rock
and Baroque Pop
influenced instrumentation and featured Bishonen lead singers usually, such as Kenji "Julie" Sawada from The Tigers
The process of releasing singles & albums is usually the opposite of the way it works in the West: Instead of artists releasing albums, then singles from those albums, labels tend to release a steady stream of singles, then compile those (along with other tracks) into albums—sometimes many months after the original singles. This sometimes gives labels/artists the opportunity to create a separate "album mix" of those singles.
J-pop technically isn't a genre and only tells one where the artist is from. Some music fans get irritated by its treatment as a defined genre as it is really just regular pop, but happens to be Japanese. Same goes for J-rock, J-urban, J-metal and any other genre that has the letter j thrown in front of it to describe Japanese artists. Of course, the same can technically also be said of anime
and the like. It's not as if we have a different word for Japanese video games.
Notable J Pop artists:
- AAA (Attack All Around): A Co-Ed group composed of 7 members (previously 8)
- Abingdon Boys School (Also see T.M.Revolution)
- Agnes Chan, a Hong Kong-born idol singer who debuted in the 70s.
- Akina Nakamori - A large star in the '80s, so much so that she was often promoted in the media as Seiko Matsuda's "rival" though in actuality Nakamori had great respect and admiration for Matsuda often humming along to her songs on shows they ended up on together.
- Amiaya - Originally models, they became creative directors for Japanese label jouetie and D Js, and are finally releasing their own music.
- Anime Song Collabo - A very large internet based group that covers anime songs.
- Anna Tsuchiya
- Aqua Timez
- Asian Kung-Fu Generation
- Ayumi Hamasaki
- Baby Metal (despite having a heavy metal group's image, they're still an idol group)
- Be For U
- BoA (It should be noted that she is ethnically Korean.)
- B'z - Currently the most successful Japanese musician since Oricon start counting with 80 million copies sold in Japan. They were also the first Asian band inducted in the Hollywood's Rock Walk. Tak Matsumoto, the band's guitarist and leader has also won a Grammy award for a collaboration album with Larry Carlton.
- Clari S
- Crystal Kay
- DREAMS COME TRUE
- Hello! Project
- Hey Say Jump
- High And Mighty Color
- HKT 48
- Hyadain: the composer, writer, arranger and singer originally famous for his youtube video remixes of RPG themes and then revealed that he is a professional all along.
- I've Sound
- JAM Project, Known as the hot-blooded musicians in the universe. No, really.
- Jin Akanishi
- Johnny's Jimusho has many popular groups featuring artists such as Yamapi (of NEWS), Kamenashi Kazuya (of KAT-TUN), Matsumoto Jun Arashi, Ikuta Toma and Japan's Most Beloved Boyband, SMAP, among many many others.
- They also branch out into acting and talk shows - being, in many cases, better at acting than at singing.
- Jun Togawa
- Kalafina, the most prolific and successful of Yuki Kajiura's projects.
- Kanako Itou
- Kanon Wakeshima - Baroque pop musician produced by renowned Visual Kei artist Mana and also identified with Visual Kei.
- Ken Hirai
- Kenji Sawada
- Koda Kumi, made famous from Final Fantasy X-2. Regarded as the Japanese Britney Spears due to the fact that she usually wears almost nothing but a smile on stage.
- Actually it was the Cutey Honey that brought her up from one hit-wonder status and "Butterfly" that sealed it.
- Kyary Pamyu Pamyu - J-pop's Memetic superstar.
- Some of her backup dancers formed their own group: Tempura Kidz
- L'Arc~en~Ciel - Also Visual Kei, though they won't refer to themselves as such.
- Mademoiselle Yulia
- Megumi Hayashibara
- Mi Chi
- Miliyah Kato
- Momoe Yamaguchi - One of the biggest stars of the 1970s. Notable for her early career which included VERY suggestive lyrics despite her age (early and mid teens) until popularity allowed her to get another pair of writers and launch her to great success... until getting tired of the idol lifestyle, marrying her frequent co-star and retiring in 1980 at 21 and at the height of her fame.
- Nami Tamaki
- Nana Mizuki is literally the ONLY seiyuu that is actually on a household name basis for her singing career, sad to say. Sales figures and being invited to perform in the Kouhaku Uta Gassen back it up.
- Mika Nakashima
- Momoiro Clover Z
- Namie Amuro
- NMB 48
- Ogre You Asshole
- OLIVIA, real name: Olivia Lufkin
- Onyanko Club - The Ur Example of the large idol group formula that would be refined to even greater success by Morning Musume and AKB48; in fact AKB48's creator/producer, Yasushi Akimoto, was behind this group as well. Some of its members went on to find success after the group ended, most notably Shizuka Kudo.
- Orange Range
- Pizzicato Five
- Porno Graffitti
- Princess Princess: Pop-rock band that enjoyed immense success at the turn of the decade in the 1980s/1990s. In 1989 they became the first all-female group to play at the Nippon Budokan and their most popular single, Diamonds, became Japan's first million-selling single.
- Puffy Ami Yumi
- Rie Fu
- Seiko Matsuda - A huge star in the '80s who holds (or held) many records for album and single sales earning her the moniker "Eternal Idol". Released an American album in 1990 which included a hit duet with Donnie Wahlberg.
- Shikata Akiko has quite a unique and versatile style, but she does make songs with more conventionnal J Pop vibes once in a while.
- Shota Shimizu
- SKE 48
- Sugawara Sayuri
- The Tigers (One of the most well known of the "Group Sounds" movement)
- T.M.Revolution (Though musically he cycles through a multitude of sounds and genres, he's most properly labelled a pop singer. Takanori's side band, Abingdon Boys School, is straight up rock though.)
- Tomoko Kawase, front woman of The Brilliant Green. She's also known as Tommy february6 and later Tommy heavenly6.
- Tohoshinki / Dong Bang Shin Ki A Boy Band which originated in Korea before gaining popularity in Japan.
- TOKIO (no, not Tokio Hotel...)
- Tokyo Girls Style
- Utada Hikaru, made famous in America from the Kingdom Hearts series.
- Yukiko Okada, a famous idol singer and her music choice being a perfect example. Sadly, it was cut short after her unexpected suicide which triggered copycats in its wake.
- Yumi Matsutoya - One of the most successful artists in J-Pop history with a career spanning 40+ years. The second highest selling female artist of all time behind only Ayumi Hamasaki, the first artist to have a record certified 2x million by the RIAJ (1990's The Gates of Heaven) and holds a likely to be unbroken record of having one number one album for 18 consecutive years from 1981-1999.
- Yuna Ito